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Highway 80?The Forgotten Commercial...

Highway 80?The Forgotten Commercial Corridor

By: Magnolia Tribune - March 29, 2005

Frank Melton Press Release – 3/29/5
Highway 80?The Forgotten Commercial Corridor

JACKSON: Highway 80, once one of the most important business corridors in the city of Jackson, is now lined with closed businesses, boarded up windows and dilapidated buildings. The few business owners who have remained in the area are concerned about their future there.

Howard Buford of Buford Plumbing said the area “definately needs some help. It has become a blight area, with vacant buildings. It seems like it’s been more or less forgotten by the leadership of Jackson.” Buford moved the business to the area in 1970, and at the time, the area was thriving. “When Metrocenter came in, the area was just booming. Now I’m worried about the future of Metrocenter.” Buford said the entire area is just drab now. “I really thought when the new Home Depot came in, things would get better. I think so many people are afraid to just try to give it a go here. If one good restaurant would come to the area, I believe others would follow.”

Bob Reed of Rainbow Signs says that he’s all in favor of someone trying to help things along on Highway 80. “The city seems to have forgotten we’re here.” One of the main things Reed says has caused the decline in the area is crime. “Drugs and crime go hand in hand, and the area is rampant with both.”

Chip Triplett of Park Development has apartments in the area. “We’d like to see the crime and drug problem eliminated. Someone needs to take control of the situation.” Triplett says the perception for some people is also a reality. “If this crime problem could be brought under control, some businesses would probably come back and flourish. But look at the old K-Mart building, and now McDonald’s is gone. That’s something that can’t be ignored.”

Businessman Manny Crystal of Jackson Iron and Metal says that Highway 80 has fallen into a state of disrepair. “Highway 80 was once a very important business area of the city. However, over the years, the area seems to have attracted certain activities that are not necessarily beneficial to what the city should be. I know it’s a problem that’s found in most cities this size, but that doesn’t mean we should accept it. What needs to be done is a cleaning up of the negative parts of the corridor. It seems that crime, prostitution and drugs are all inter-related, and the more that can be cleaned up, the better, unless of course, you’re in a business that caters to that kind of activity.”

A city-wide economic development rally will be held to highlight “Highway 80?The Forgotten Corridor,” on Thursday, March 31st at 5pm on the parking lot of the Wilson Kia Car Dealership (2131 Highway 80 West). A catfish dinner will be served, and there will be live entertainment. Frank Melton will be the featured speaker.

Suggested contribution for the event is $10 a person, and can be purchased at the Melton for Mayor campaign office (corner of State and Tombigbee) or at the event.

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Magnolia Tribune

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